'Wimbledon Prowler' admits raiding homes

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CCTV images of Asdrit KapajImage source, PA
Image caption,
Asdrit Kapaj travelled from his home in Greater Manchester to carry out the burglaries

A prolific thief dubbed the "Wimbledon Prowler" has admitted raiding a string of homes during a spree spanning more than a decade.

Asdrit Kapaj travelled from Altrincham, Greater Manchester, to target homes in south-west London from 2008 until his arrest in February.

His "sustained campaign" netted him a diamond ring, a gold necklace, and thousands of pounds in cash.

Kapaj pleaded guilty to 21 counts of burglary at Kingston Crown Court.

The father-of-two also admitted two counts of attempted burglary and a further count of going equipped.

The 42-year-old is also thought to have attempted to raid the address of Boris Becker, but that charge was not put to Kapaj when he appeared in court as prosecutors need to liaise with the tennis star and two other victims.

'Blank amazement'

Judge Peter Lodder QC described Kapaj as having "identified a particular area and conducted a sustained campaign".

Scotland Yard previously linked the "Wimbledon Prowler", who was distinctive by his fisherman's hat, to 200 burglaries.

Alexandra Boshell, prosecuting, said much of the evidence has come from automatic number plate recognition technology tracking Kapaj's car between Altrincham and Wimbledon.

Wimbledon Village residents, including 81-year-old victim Philippa Beck, were in court. She said she was struck by "blank amazement" when she learned Kapaj was making a near 500-mile round trip to target the area.

Laurie Porter, chairwoman of the Wimbledon Village Safer Neighbourhood Panel, said residents were "sleeping more easily" now the man "creeping around our gardens and our streets" is in custody.

Kapaj, originally from Kosovo, was arrested on 22 February and will be will be sentenced by 21 June.

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